Roles and responsibilities

As with all aspects of product development, a role framework is useful for understanding the work to be done for localization. A large organization may have specialists that fulfill each of these specific roles. In a small organization, individuals may cover more of the roles described here.

Not everyone needs to be an expert, but everyone should have some awareness of internationalization basics. In a larger team, you can use the "champion" concept: individuals become champions for a particular area and develop expertise. The champion is the local expert in a subject, acting as a resource for the rest of the team. To develop depth in a team, trade off the champion role over time. Each champion steps back from a front line role and mentors the next champion.

Source roles

The roles and responsibilities at source set the stage for doing actual localization:

  • architect
  • designer
  • developer
  • content creator
  • product/program manager (strategy and product design)
  • user experience designer
  • project management (tracking and scheduling)

Localization roles

These are the roles involved in the actual localization process:

  • localization tools development
  • tester
  • translator
  • local content creator
  • language validator
  • project manager (translation coordination)

The timing for engaging in the activities for each role is critical. If world-readiness isn't considered at each step, the ability to create localized versions is at risk and fixing it is expensive. The risk is highest when the fundamental baseline is missing.


Another perspective is to examine the activities that each role is responsible for.

Managerial activities include:

  • Design global features.
  • Define exit criteria to measure international status and progress.
  • Define visual style guides, including mirroring.
  • Define content style guides, covering terminology and usage. Style guides are consumed by both developers and translators.
  • Establish issue tracking for the localization process and locale-specific issues.
  • Schedule alignments between development and the translation provider.

Technical activities include:

  • Enable localization:
    • Externalize localizable resources
    • Comment resources
    • Create the translation pipeline
    • Create localized builds
  • Implement language and region detection and user selection
  • Employ globalization APIs
  • Validate localizability
  • Validate (test) functionality